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Not been paid since January

Discussion in 'Independent' started by financiallyinsecure, May 6, 2011.

  1. I work in a small independent school. The staff have not been paid since January. Noone can get an up to date pension statement and TP have hinted that pensions are not being paid. Noone has received a payslip since Sept, or a P60, and staff who left last year have not received P45s.

    Pay is always promised "next week" or "when the fees come in" or "when there are funds". Noone can get a straight answer, and many have tried.

    Simply leaving is not an easy option. There are no teaching jobs going locally and moving out of teaching would result in a massive salary cut. Also, how to explain it to a future teaching employer?! Staff who have left or tried to have also had a mysterious difficulty in getting shortlisted for jobs ...

    Any advice appreciated.
     
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    I have posted this on Opinion...
    Speaking as someone who ran an indy school for 8 years . . .
    From what i have read, I believe that . . .
    This school is going to close. To close with little or no notice to either parents, staff or other creditors. I reckon that the only way that it could not close would be if it were, overnight, to double or triple its pupil numbers without incurring any additional staff costs.
    A smallish not very financially secure school (which I guess this is) may well be spending 70%-80% or more of income on staff salaries and associated costs. If it cannot afford to pay these, then it will not have paid other outgoings either, since retaining staff must be its priority. Is the water likely to be cut off? Or the electricity? has it paid the rates? Even the rent on its premises. Doubt it.
    So what to do?
    Firstly: start applying now for other jobs. Advice available on the JobSeekers' Forum in the Welcome thread.
    If I were in their position, I would send, on behalf of all staff (the staff are all pulling together on this?) a separate recorded delivery letter to each of the following: Bursar, Headteacher, Proprietor (if one exists), Chair of Governors (if one exists).
    I would ask for the following information to be provided in writing to all employees within 5 working days of the receipt of this letter:
    1. Confirmation from the School H&S officer, or failing that from the Bursar, that the financial situation of the school has not impacted in any negative fashion on the Health and Safety of the premises, and that it is still safe for pupils and employees to be on site.
    2. Details from the Bursar of the last date that National Insurance payments were paid in full on behalf of all employees.
    3. Details from the Bursar of the last date that PAYE payments were paid in full on behalf of all employees.
    (It has ocurred to me that although you may have only stopped receiving salary from February, and have had N.I. and PAYE deducted from your salaries before that, the school may have been pocketing this since April 2010 and not paying it . . .)
    4. Copies of the relevant Certificates of Insurance for the Employer's Liability Insurance as set out in the Employer's Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969, and of the Certificate of Insurance for Public Liability Insurance. The latter is not compulsory but obviously a school needs it as it has large numbers of members of the public (called pupils . . .) on its premises.
    (By Law, the first of these must be displayed for employees to see. I again am a tad suspicious and wondering if this has been paid . . .)
    I believe that you are legally entitled to all the above 4 pieces of information, although I may be wrong here. I certainly believe that it is reasonable to ask for this information. And if some of this is not forthcoming (points 1 and 4), then I believe that you should not be on school premises.
    If nothing else, a letter like this would signal that the staff are to be taken seriously.
    Best wishes

    _____________________________________________________________
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Workshops. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
    The next Job Seminars are all sold out, I'm afraid.
    E-mail Julia on advice@tsleducation.com for how to book a meeting with me personally.
    Look forward to seeing you!
     
  3. An update to this topic.

    In September 2011 all staff were told the school would run until half term (October 2011) or Christmas at the latest.

    We were told we would be paid on time. A "benefactor" was mentioned. All staff agreed to keep going to ensure pupils would have time to be placed in other schools and take entrance tests etc by Christmas.

    However, at the meeting with parents, the Head acted as if everything was fine. He wouldn't answer questions about financial issues.

    At half term nothing further was said and the school continued into the second half of term. September's salaries were paid. None of the previous witheld salaries were paid.

    The "benefactor" did not materialise.It is dubious as to whether there ever was one.

    October's salary was not paid. One member of staff left and I went 0.5 time in order to and make enough money to pay the mortgage and meet living expenses.

    Two weeks before the end of term all staff were told the schools would close at the end of term. So staff, including myself, started moving possessions out and winding down - saying goodbyes etc. The Head details how all staff could then claim redundancy.

    Still no pay. (now six months owed - £12,300). Staff also started getting demands from HMRC regarding unpaid PAYE. HMRC claimed the school had not paid for 18 months. The Head claimed the school had paid and were in dispute with HMRC.

    After Christmas I was stunned to find the school was still operating, minus myself and another member of staff (who have been replaced by unqualified students.) It transpires he has paid staff who returned after Christmas, but not those who didn't or who are still owed money. The Head from this point on has ignored any phone, fax or email communication. I can't claim redundancy because I haven't been made redundant. I haven't been back in, although I understand I haven't technically left because I haven't resigned and I haven't been sacked or made redundant. The head refuses or ignores requests to pay the 12,300 owed, despite the fact I have a county court judgement against the school for the full amount. The Head ignores references requests, so I cannot get another job in teaching due to Safeguarding regulations stipulating that a reference from the previous teaching employer has to be obtained prior to employment. I've had five teaching supply agencies alone turn me down on this basis. I'm getting shorltlsted and interviews, but no employment because of this.

    The Head refuses to provide pay slips (dating back over 12 months) and P60s and P45s to all staff - probably because they would reveal he hasn't paid PAYE and pensions for this period. Therefore we're all having to pay HMRC for our own PAYE because we have no evidence to challenge them.

    What can I do:
    1 - How can I get a reference?
    2 - How can I get some money?
    3 - Should I 'name and shame' the school or is there an agency I can report it to?
    --
     
  4. Can we assume that you are not in a union?
    If not, then shouldn't you be getting legal advice, even if you have to pay for it?
     
  5. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Well, this was what I felt would happen, when I wrote back in May 2011:
    And you say that this IS what happened:
    Back in May I suggested:
    Again, as I suspected, this is what was happening:
    You have all this money owed you, you have a judgment against them, you are being dunned by HMRC, and in all probability not only have they not paid your PAYE taxes, they probably haven't paid any pension contribution either. Have you checked that?
    I am so very, very sorry for you and your colleagues, and also for the children and anyone else caught up in this horrible situation.
    Is the Deputy Head still available? failing that, your Head of department or Head of Year?
    Legal advice is needed here. What has your union been doing on your behalf? Check your household insurance - sometimes it has an extra to cover legal advice for disputes with your employer.
    But I will say that if they are bankrupt, then you will just be added to the list of creditors . . .
    You cannot name and shame on the TES website because the lawyers won't let you. You could contact whichever of the professional associations (IAPS, ISA, etc) the school belongs to. Although I bet that they haven't paid their subscription to that either . . .
    Very best wishes for a satisfactory outcome. Everyone on this Forum, I am sure, joins me in hoping that things will get better.
    _______________________________________
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
    I shall be doing the Win That Teaching Job seminar on Saturday February 25th, and also the Moving into Headship or SLT seminar on Saturday 17th March.
    www.tesweekendworkshop87.eventbrite.com
    www.tesweekendworkshop90.eventbrite.com
     
  6. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Yes, in theory it is the Head.
    But if the school is in the process of closing down, then whoever is available.
    _______________________________________
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
    I shall be doing the Win That Teaching Job seminar on Saturday February 25th, and also the Moving into Headship or SLT seminar on Saturday 17th March.
    www.tesweekendworkshop87.eventbrite.com
    www.tesweekendworkshop90.eventbrite.com
     
  7. Superb email on school in which staff are not being paid. Excellent advice.
     

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